After a lot of editing, and a lot of feedback, I finally handed my article in and got amazing feedback from the course leader. Yay! So I wanted to share what I did for my Bsc with you guys. I would’ve done that even if the feedback was crap, hah. Well, enjoy!
Never thought I’d say this, but I actually miss the flies…
Experience changes behavior in fruit flies
We know that by definition, a species consists of populations whose individuals are capable of mating with each other and produce fertile offspring. Since Darwin, we’ve come a long way of defining the factors that make up for what we call a species. For a species to live on and continue its evolutionary development, individuals that reproduce sexually must find a mate and produce offspring.
Most of us would likely think that it isn’t such a big deal to find a partner in a diverse world, but how would you know which individuals are best to invest precious energy and time into? And would you really invest in changing your behavior according to previous experience when you only live for 2 weeks? The answer to that might be found in the context of learning in mate choice.
What did I
For my project, I studied the choices male fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) make when they’re given chance to choose between two females of different eye color. I also studied whether the eye color of the male would differ in their choice making and so brown-eyed and red-eyed males were used as well.
The males were either inexperienced with females, e.g. virgins, or had been allowed to mate with females of a certain eye color. Virgin males were allowed to choose between females of different eye color after 3 days of isolation. After the same amount of time to promote learning and assure mating, experienced males were allowed to choose between choosing between a red0 and a brown-eyed female virgin females (fig. 1). The eye color of the female that was mating was noted.
What did I find?
Surprisingly, males of different eye color changed in their choice making of females based on earlier experience, hinting a learning process. But flies don’t distinguish eye colors as humans do, so what could explain this? If anything, it promotes further investigation whether such a small difference like eye color can cause larger differences in behavior even in a short-lived organism as the common fruit fly.
Also, my best friend came to home! He moved to Japan a few years ago, and it’s been lonely, but we met when he was here! For once, it felt great to have a friend close even for a little while. Managed to remember to take a picture. To my defence, the sun was in our faces and I had no idea my Chinese eyes were so pronounced against the sun, haha :) Also, I’ve been so tired, still am. Anyway, here it is. Me and my brother from another mother.
//c_Cae; let me know what you think, or if you have questions about this, I’d love trying to answer them :)